Monday, September 29, 2008

The Way of a Trout

To most people a woodland stream is a pleasant scene of sun and shadow and rippling water.
But to an angler it is a community of many forms of life all centering, in his mind at least, on the most beautiful and aggressive of freshwater fish....
the trout.

-Frederick O. Hutchinson

While browsing through an antique store, recently, I picked up a first edition copy of the old Trout Unlimited book "The Way of a Trout".
This book was first published in 1972 and while that might not necessarily qualify it for antique status it is in very nice condition.
The book doesn't necessarily tell me anything that I didn't already know it did bring me back to my early days of conservation awareness.
This book had an accompanying film as well and it can be located here
The Way of a Trout
So what is the way of a trout? Well I can only relate it to the trout here in Oregon and Washington.
These Pacific Northwest trout face pretty much the same challenges as they did back in 1972 when the book was published but on a much more intense scale.
Along with a myriad of predators that the wild trout faces we know that the biggest and most destructive predator is, of course, ourselves. Trout also face all the other barriers and obstacles that made conservation as important back in 1972 as it is today.
I am struck by how intuitive,insightful the author, R.P. Van Gytenbeck and Trout Unlimited itself were thirty six years ago. This was at the very beginning of the ecology movement and Trout Unlimited was at the forefront in coldwater fishery conservation. This is why I made a lifetime commitment to them recently.
In my own pursuit of trout and primarily coastal cutthroat trout these past several years I have often pondered just how much these fish have to go through to achieve their sole purpose in life. I think about that as I patrol the banks of my favorite streams and I think it is what spurs me on both in my angling life and my conservation life as well.
These fish are worth the effort! So are the salmon and steelhead trout which inhabit the same rivers! Whether or not you are a religious person one cannot help but be in wonder at these little miracles of nature. If there is a supreme being then certainly trout are his/her perfect creation.
Some see trout as a food source and use hook and line as a means to acquire that food....that's fair enough I guess.Yes, I suppose, a nice frying pan full of wild trout might make ones mouth water. If you are reading this and are that hungry then look me up and I'll buy you a Big Mac if that is what it take to sate your appetite and not kill a wild trout
Some, myself included, see trout as a simplistic means to feel good about being where we are at this moment in time. Does that makes sense? To me it does! I think killing a wild trout for sustenance is a weak excuse at best . I feel fortunate enough to have been able to experience trout in a wonderful way and that does not include bashing it over the head for a measly dinner.
The way of a trout is perhaps the way of ourselves when you get right down to it. Life is a perilous journey to be sure and is wrought with obstacles and indeed our own predators. Maybe if more saw it that way we would not continuously have to struggle to save them.

1 comment:

  1. I also have a passion for old books about our angling tradition.
    Great post, thanks.